Other common names: North Country Mule Sheep
The North of England Mule Sheep is the name for a crossbred sheep derived from a Swaledale Ewe crossed with the Bluefaced Leicester Ram. According to the Kirkby Stephen Branch of the Mule Sheep Association, "The North of England Mule is the leading crossbred ewe on lowland farms and the UK’s most important commercial sheep. The Mule is the result of Swaledale ewes crossed with a Bluefaced Leicester ram creating a hybrid retaining the hardiness and good mothering ability of the Swaledale, together with the greater meat yield, higher fertility and larger carcass of the Bluefaced Leicester."
The North of England Mule ewe is then usually crossed with a meat-type ram to produce market lambs. As the North American Mule Sheep Society explains, "The Mule ewe lambs are either retained for the next step of the system, or sold off the farm in the fall at the livestock markets by the thousands. They are purchased to make-up large commercial flocks for the UK’s “prime” lamb production. In the final tier of the scheme the Mule ewes are bred to terminal sires, renowned for their heavy carcass genetics; the preferred ones being either a “British” Suffolk or the Texel. This third step in the system produces a carcass lamb that easily reaches market weights off milk and grass."
Appearance / health:
The North of England Mule is hornless and has a brown/black face with a tendency towards a "Roman" nose. Ears and legs are white with brown markings.